The Archdiocese of Philadelphia kicked off its 49th annual Catholic Relief Services’ Rice Bowl initiative Feb. 12. Rice Bowl is a nationwide Lenten program providing people of all ages with a way to put their faith into action through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Most Reverend John J. McIntyre, Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia, presided over this year’s blessing of the cardboard Rice Bowl containers at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center in Center City, Philadelphia.

During the blessing and launch, Anne H. Ayella, CRS Diocesan Director and Lizanne Hagedorn, Executive Director of Nutritional Development Services (NDS), an agency of the archdiocese, offered remarks. They were joined by Sarina DiBianca, Executive Director of Siloam Wellness located in Philadelphia. Siloam Wellness operates a food cupboard supported by Nutritional Development Services and benefits in part from Rice Bowl contributions.

“The beauty of Rice Bowl is the far reaching impact it has on both our global and local sisters and brothers,” Ayella explained.

In 2023, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Rice Bowl collection was up nearly 14% with over $426,000 raised through Rice Bowl.

>>SEE RELATED: CRS Rice Bowl Sees Largest-Ever Lenten Collection This Year

While 75% of the collection is utilized by CRS – the U.S. Catholic bishops’ official overseas aid agency – 25% stays local for hunger and poverty relief needs in the Philadelphia community, supported by Nutritional Development Services.

The annual collection encourages families to make monetary sacrifices along with prayer and fasting during Lent.

During the blessing, DiBianca pointed to rising food prices saying “food stamps no longer feed a family for the week.”

“Thanks to Rice Bowl and Nutritional Development Services’ donations, the pantry gives us the ability to feed our families. The need has increased in the past year from 4,812 persons in 2022 to 5,882 persons in 2023,” she explained.

Ayella says sacrifices in the Philadelphia Archdiocese “make a real connection with others.”

“In this year of Eucharistic Revival, we are reminded that when we receive Jesus, we are called to share His love with our sisters and brothers in need.”

For more information and resources on this year’s CRS Rice Bowl initiative, visit here.